by: Tony Thomas Updated:BROOKHAVEN, Ga. —
The owner of a chain of adult stores says a local city leader should be supporting his business instead of trying to shut it down.
That's because a company owned by a Brookhaven council member distributes one of the same products sold in the store the city wants closed.
Channel 2's Tony Thomas confronted the city leader about the issue.
The product in question is a massage oil and candle made with hemp and soy.
The Stardust store in Brookhaven sells it and the city calls it an adult product.
It is the same product sold by a company founded and owned by a City Council member but when he sells it, it's a health product.
"It's kind of ironic," Stardust owner Michael Morrison said.
He told Thomas the same candles Brookhaven inspectors call adult products as they ticket his store,
council member Joe Gebbia sells through his company Naturally Hemp.
"They are clearly, in my definition, non-adult products but the city is citing us every single day saying we are a 100 percent adult store," Morrison said.
Brookhaven leaders said the Stardust was licensed to sell smoke-related products, but instead sells adult sex items and is illegal.
City inspectors have given them 14 citations a day for about the past week, 140 in all. All of the citation are for illegal operations. The battle is headed to court.
Last month, Gebbia himself made the motion to tighten Brookhaven's laws to try and force the Stardust store out of business.
When the council met Thursday night for a public hearing, Gebbia was absent.
Thomas spoke with Gebbia by phone.
"We sell it primarily to health food shops and pharmacies, that's our area of specialty," Gebbia told Thomas.
Gebbia said his company has never sold products to Morrison. He calls the candles health products and doesn't see a conflict.
"You can probably find a lot of products on the shelf that are used properly and put a twist to it that would have a negative connotation," Gebbia said.
"Should he recuse himself?" Thomas asked Morrison.
"That's an interesting question," Morrison responded.
A city spokesperson told Thomas no other
City Council member or the mayor would talk about the issue involving Gebbia.